The government at present has no intention to finance the establishment of new commercial ports due to the efficiency of current commercial ports in Salalah, Suhar and Duqm and the current trend is to augment the economic benefit of the existing ports.
This was stated by Eng Said bin Hamoud al Maawali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, as part of the ministry’s statement during the ninth regular meeting of the third annual session (2021-2022) held under the chairmanship of Khalid bin Hilal al Maawali, Chairman, in presence of Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed al Nadabi, Secretary-General of Majlis Ash’shura, on Sunday. He put stress on maximising economic activities at existing ports.
The statement came when the Majlis Ash’shura hosted the minister. “The Sultanate of Oman has witnessed the establishment of many commercial and industrial ports and sea harbours in the past years, based on the government’s awareness of seaports and the important role in developing the Omani economy,” he added.
The statement highlighted the programmes of the development plan of the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), which included programmes for developing port infrastructure, raising the contribution of foreign trade to economic activity, and efficient management programmes for economic development projects by promoting economic activity decentralisation.
The statement also threw light on some future projects of the ministry to develop the port sector and establish new facilities by offering them for investment to local and international companies.
The ministry is working on the completion of some projects currently under implementation including the car parking and roads leading to the administration premises and infrastructure of Harmoul harbour at Sohar Port. This is in addition to future projects that are currently under study for upgrading the infrastructure of Sohar and Salalah ports, the statement said.
“As for maintenance and rehabilitation projects, the ministry is currently working on preparing tenders for the maintenance of the ports of Shannah and Masirah, as well as the implementation of a study on the need to raise the readiness for ports to deal with exceptional climatic conditions, and a comprehensive study and evaluation of port infrastructure’’, the minister said.
He explained there were investment initiatives between the Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia represented by the Omani side benefiting from the Saudi experience in establishing a Saudi Ports Authority and managing the logistics sector, establishing a port community platform that is operated by the Saudi Information Exchange Company, drafting concession contracts through a group of global legal consulting companies. The Saudi side will benefit from the Omani experience in managing Omani ports through private sector companies, establishing and activating free zones adjacent to Omani ports, as well as sharing investment opportunities and future projects between the two countries.
The statement touched on the reviewed laws, policies and legislation, such as the Communications Law, Electronic Transactions Law and Information Technology Crimes Law. Also, the ministry has completed the preparation of the Communications and Information Technology Regulatory Law and Personal Data Protection Law.
The ministry intends to start preparing the space law upon the completion of the preparation of the national policy and strategy for the space sector, the revision of the law regulating postal services in line with encouraging investment for the growth of e-commerce. Besides, the policy for the use of artificial intelligence systems, the cloud computing policy and the guideline for protecting children on the Internet were also issued.
On the issue of railways, the statement stated that the ministry is currently studying, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, an investment offer to establish a railway to transport goods between Sohar Port and the logistics area in Khazaen.
“If the economic feasibility of the project is proven, it will be carried forward as one of the partnership projects with the private sector’’, Al Maawali said.
Given the importance of the activity of refuelling ships at the global level and its impact on the maritime transport industry, and in view of the intense competition between the ports of neighbouring countries to provide integrated marine services at sea, the ministry has worked on preparing the legislation regulating the practice of the activity of refuelling ships.
It issued the regulation for refuelling ships in Omani ports by virtue of Ministerial Resolution No (31/2020) on March 11, 2020. It also obligated companies working in port management in the Sultanate of Oman to contract with more than one company specialised in supplying ships with fuel. This is to ensure that all ships visiting Omani ports receive all marine services, as the number of companies licensed to supply ships with fuel in ports has reached seven.